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Flexibility & balance - What employees really value in a COVID-19 world

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

As many of us can attest to, COVID-19 has brought a raft of challenges never-before experienced by businesses. Of interest to me, however, is the significant and distinct shift in what draws employees and customers to particular businesses and what makes them want to stay.

A WAToday article (‘Incentives to cut corners’: Contractors can create financial risks, ACCR says) highlighted some of the challenges being experienced by companies turning to labour hire firms to fill staff shortages, reduce labour costs and/or maintain flexibility in the workplace.

For businesses, there are many risks and hidden costs associated with moving work from one team to another (either internally or externally) that are often missed or not comprehensively explored. These can impact safety, attrition of your organisational knowledge base and also how performance is measured (ie on activity as opposed to outcome).

What’s not mentioned in this article, however, is that many workers want the flexibility offered by gig contracts. Whether they are students, parents, grandparents, or semi-retired – non-permanent work is very attractive and suits the work/life balance that is being seen as a huge motivator since the pandemic.

There are several drivers for this shift in motivation against working in the office, 9:00am-5:00pm, Monday to Friday (and sometimes longer!). These include the tangible positives of not commuting and the very real physical and financial impact of COVID-19 being felt across Australia and around the world.

This value-shift is supported by several recent research papers and, more anecdotally, the recent barrage of LinkedIn surveys – all which indicate a significant portion of Australia’s workforce now want, value and demand flexibility in their working life.

The Conscious Consumer Era Arrives, research commissioned by Cavill + Co, explores opportunities to reshape the role of business in society, following the “COVID effect”. It goes beyond the need for workforce flexibility and explores the concept of the Conscious Consumer and the realisation that employees have the power to influence corporate behaviour, by choosing who they work for.

Your employer brand is fused to your consumer brand.

“More and more talented Australians are opting to work for companies with a proven track record in social responsibility, for purpose-driven enterprises or even starting their own purpose-centred company that does no harm and gives back.”

Business is changing. Are you ready?

Businesses today need to look at different ways of engaging and retaining the skills needed for their long-term viability, and that may be via full-time, part-time, remote, casual, subcontract or on-hired and outsourced labour or a mixture of all of these.

Building a robust, over-arching service delivery model and organisational ecosystem, whilst reviewing and strengthening your workforce composition, is critical to reducing risks for businesses endeavouring to be sustainable long-term.

Optimal Resourcing is a workforce consultancy specialising in connecting business strategy to people action plans. Our team understands that many businesses today are a mix of full-time employees and part-timers/contractors etc and we are 100% supportive of it! Having a flexible, agile workforce is key to addressing and minimising the impact of the skill shortages.

We support businesses to explore, plan and apply these key themes for themselves through our strategic workforce planning workshops. Here, we help you to understand your competitive advantage and determine what skills you have now, what you need for the future and how to address any gaps through buy, build, borrow, release or retain strategies. We work with you to capture this information in our “3-2-1 Workforce Roadmap”– a roadmap of what, when and how to start your targeted people activities.

We support you with defining the right work, the right people, and the right behaviours for your business.

Our free e-book on workforce planning is available for download here.


I explore the importance of investing in staff through strategic, holistic workforce planning in my book; Offshoring or Shit-shoring: The definitive guide to transitioning work from team to team, inhouse to outsource, or country to country. I’m excited to announce my book has been sent to print, sign up here to be notified of it's release.

Please reach out if you’d like to grab a coffee or if Optimal Resourcing can help your organisation with any of the themes discussed here or in my previous posts.


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